RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Attorney General Jason Miyares has appointed the University of Virginia’s new top lawyer after firing the school’s counsel in January while he was on leave serving as the lead investigator for the House panel investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Miyares’ office announced the appointment of Cliff Iler as UVA’s new counsel Friday, more than three months after the firing of Tim Heaphy, who had worked for the university for about three years.
Heaphy was one of roughly 30 staffers who were let go after Miyares took office, a group that also included the counsel for George Mason University. In an interview with 8News, Miyares said Heaphy’s role as the U.S. House committee’s top investigator had “zero” impact on his decision.
In January, Miyares’ spokesperson Victoria LaCivita said the appointment of Heaphy was “controversial” and that former Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat who Miyares defeated in last year’s election, had “excluded many qualified internal candidates when he brought in this particular university counsel.”
The former chief of staff for AG Herring said LaCivita’s description of Heaphy’s hiring was inaccurate, saying after his firing that Heaphy was the school administration’s first choice. Heaphy, a UVA graduate, had investigated the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017 before being hired by the school in 2018.
Iler will oversee a team of nine other attorneys, including three who serve the university’s health system, as UVA’s top lawyer. He was also appointed to serve as senior assistant attorney general.
“I look forward to working alongside the other members of the Attorney General and University Counsel team to provide outstanding legal services to the President, the Board of Visitors, and the other members of the UVA community,” Iler said in a statement Friday.
Iller has experience working in universities, serving as the deputy general counsel for the Faculty, Students, and Research Group in the Office of Legal Counsel at the University of Kentucky. He also worked as the university’s associate general counsel, working with the school’s health care operations.
“Cliff is a brilliant attorney with over a decade of experience in higher education and healthcare law. I am confident he will be an excellent addition to the University of Virginia and serve the students, faculty, staff, and Commonwealth well,” Miyares said in a statement.